And the San Diego sexual harassment scandal continues…this time with the filing of a lawsuit against the City and former Mayor, Bob Filner by another former staffer, Benelia Santos-Hunter.
Ms. Santos-Hunter, 50, was an executive assistant to the former mayor. Joining former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson and city parks and recreation employee, Stacy McKenzie, Santos-Hunter becomes the latest seeking to hold the City and the ex-Mayor responsible for his unlawful and incredibly creepy behavior.
Ms. Santos-Hunter filed suit in San Diego County Superior Court adding counts for ‘severe and pervasive sexual harassment.” She says that the ex-Mayor’s actions were “repugnant and revolting.”
As previously reported, the city of San Diego just settled a lawsuit against Filner filed by his former communications director, for $250,000 and an apology. Santos-Hunter is asking for quite a bit more, nearly $1.5 million, an offer that was rejected by the City, leading to the filing of this lawsuit.
According to Santos-Hunter’s attorney, this case is more egregious because even though Filner had harassed many women who he came into contact with over his short stint as the United States’ 8th largest city, Ms. Santos-Hunter was in a rather unique position.
“Filner acted creepy towards a lot of women who came to him at City Hall for help but they could just walk away. But Benelia felt trapped, she had to put up with Filner to keep her job.”
Ms. Santos-Hunter tried to seek help from her superiors at the City, complaining to the assistant chief operating officer, but her claims were dismissed and nothing was ever done.
According to the pleadings, the former mayor repeatedly asked for kisses and made numerous attempts to grab her breasts and buttocks. He would engage in lewd banter, and make comments such as “Let’s spend a passionate time together,” “Let’s go in the back and make love right now,” and “Let’s have sex on the conference room table.”
Creating a hostile work environment doesn’t require such forward behavior. As we have explained on our sexual harassment pages most sexual harassment cases allege that the employer, supervisor, co-worker or even customer, has created a work environment that is hostile to the victimized employee.
A hostile work environment has been created when the actions of the perpetrator (whether they be comments, jokes, physical actions, displaying of inappropriate images, or any other type of sexual behavior), become so bad that the victim’s work begins to suffer, emotional distress is caused, or the victim is forced to quit his or her job or transfer.
Ms. Santos-Hunter was clearly the victim of a hostile work environment, along with many of the other women who worked at City Hall or came there for help, under Filner’s reign of sexual inappropriateness. Given the number of employees and others who have come forward to make complaints, it’s surprising that the former Mayor got any of the City’s business done at all.
If you feel that you have been the victim of sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination or wage and hour or meal break violation, contact Stephen Danz & Associates at (877) 789-9707 or use the Contact Form on our website to schedule a free consultation today.
We look forward to defending your rights.